Representing Perpetrators

Call for Papers: Representing Perpetrators of Mass Violence. Utrecht University, 31 August–3 September, 2016.

Organizers: Susanne C. Knittel and Uğur Ümit Üngör

Keynote speakers:

Prof. Alexander Hinton (Rutgers University)

Milo Rau, International Institute of Political Murder (

Many recent films, novels, and television series dealing with perpetrators of mass violence and genocide question the simplistic dichotomy of good versus evil. At the same time, in public discourse and the media such binaries often persist, particularly in the context of the “war on terror” and in the popular memory of the Holocaust and other major atrocities of the recent past. In both cases, the question of representation is of central importance.

This conference aims to explore the questions and problems that arise in the context of the representation of perpetrators in the media, public discourse, in cultural representations, as well as in education and academic scholarship. The conference title refers to all forms of representation, including but not limited to self-representation (in social media, auto-documents, interviews, testimonies), representation in the news and the media, fictional representation (in literature, film, and the arts), legal representation (either contemporary or historically), representation in the accounts and testimonies of their victims and survivors, and representation in academic scholarship of various disciplines (including history, sociology, anthropology, political science, literary and cultural studies, media studies, philosophy, law, criminology, religious studies, etc.).

We invite papers that address ethical, cultural, philosophical, political, legal, and aesthetic dimensions in the representation of perpetrators of political mass violence and genocide in any historical or geographic context. We also welcome contributions that take a meta-discursive approach, i.e. examine the representation of perpetrators within or across disciplines. In general, contributors should seek to combine case studies or specific examples with broader theoretical, methodological, philosophical, and/or ethical questions.

Please send an abstract (max. 300 words), and a short bio (max. 100 words) to by 30 April 2016. The conference is open to scholars, including PhD students and early career academics, educators, and curators of sites of memory or museums. The conference language will be English.

Susanne C. Knittel is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Utrecht University.

Uğur Ümit Üngör is Associate Professor of History at Utrecht University and Research Fellow at the Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies (NIOD) in Amsterdam.


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